Friedrich Glauser was born in Vienna in 1896, dying at aged forty-two after a tumultuous and way too short life. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, addicted to morphine and opium, he spent much of his life in psychiatric wards, insane asylums and, when he was arrested for forging prescriptions, in prison. He also spent two years with the Foreign Legion in North Africa, after which he worked as a coal miner and a hospital orderly. His Sergeant Studer crime novels have cult status in Europe, Germany's most prestigious crime fiction award is named after the author, and Thumbprint has now been published in English by Bitter Lemon Press.
The death of a travelling salesman in the forest of Gerzenstein appears to be an open and shut case. Sergeant Studer is confronted with an obvious suspect and a confession to the murder. But nothing is what it seems. Envy, hatred, sexual abuse and the corrosive power of money lie just beneath the surface. Studer's investigation soon splinters the glassy facade of Switzerland's tidy villages, manicured forests and seemingly placid citizens.
Don't make the mistake I did when you sit down to Thumbprint, and assume that 197 pages will be a quick read. Thumbprint is enthralling, involving, dense and endlessly fascinating, but it begs to be read slowly. The dialogue is lively, Studer's methods partly eclectic, partly dogged. Thumbprint is a magnificent book though, and I'm really looking forward to my next book from this all too small collection of books.